Thursday, January 21, 2010

Art Appreciation: Dick Ryan

Dick Ryan was an artist who worked in comics mostly during the 1930s. Ryan also worked on the syndicated strip "Animal Crackers", which ran from 1937 to 1957, although the feature is better known as being the work of Warren Goodrich. According to the "Who's Who of American Comic Books" website, Ryan worked on "Animal Crackers" in '37 & '38.

The majority of Ryan's output was produced through the art shop of Harry A Chesler, where it was seen in such early comic books as National Allied Newspaper Syndicate's "New Comics", Chesler's own "Star Comics" & "Star Ranger", and Ultem Publications' "Funny Picture Stories" and "Funny Pages", along with a few early issues of MLJ's books like "Pep Comics" & "Blue Ribbon Comics". His work also appears in 1945's "Carnival Comics" from the Pershing Square Publishing Company, taking-up about half the book with reprints of his earlier work.

Searching the internet looking for more information to share regarding Dick Ryan turns up ... pretty much nothing. I found an interview on a religious website with an artist named "Dick Ryan", but there was nothing to indicate that he was ever a comic book artist. There's an actor with the same name who was born in 1896, worked in film from 1916-21, then again from 1941-67, and eventually passed away in 1969, but again, nothing to indicate that this actor has anything to do with the comic book artist. I suppose I could just make-up a story about the guy ... I wouldn't be the first person in the world to talk out my butt about something I know nothing about.

More rambling follows the artwork portion of this post. Included are pages & covers from 1936 & '37

Without question, when it comes to comic books, I'm a superhero fan and I don't apologize for it. Superheroes aren't ALL I read (Groo The Wanderer, Poison Elves, Bone, to name a few), but they do make-up the bulk of my collection. The work of Dick Ryan appeals to me for some reason, not in the stories so much as the detail he puts into his artwork. It's a nice change of pace to be flipping through a Golden Age comic book file I've downloaded from the 'net, seeing page after page of the usual GA artwork, and then run across a Dick Ryan page. It gives the books a nice little "pop" and breaks-up the visual monotony a Golden Age comic can have when you're not reading the stories the first time through. It's disappointing to search the internet for a while and not find any information about the guy beyond seeing what little work he did in comics 70 years ago. It's only through the efforts of the people who physically own these books and share scans freely with other comic book fans across the internet that I even know the guy existed. That's a shame ... or, as an old friend of mine once said: "That shit ain't right."


  1. I'll post more Dick Ryan stuff soon. He did quite a bit of work early-on in Comics' history, so there's plenty more to see.

  2. Dick Ryan is my great-great half-uncle. His brother was Ben Ryan, a vaudville performer, and there is much more written about his work. Ben dated Gracie Allan before she got together with George Burns. I've been looking for more information on Dick and Ben, and I'm pleased to see your research here. Dick's Bugville comic has always fascinated me!


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